Thursday, January 30, 2020. Local Paper Review by Harry Mottram

Cannibals, crumbling piers and Cinders’ Sisters feature on the pages of the Weston Mercury and Cheddar Valley Gazette this week.

The Gazette features a story that has been reported before but still makes an interesting read. It reveals the cave dwellers of Neolithic Cheddar used human skulls as drinking vessels and a form of crockery. Considering their shape it seemed a practical used of the bones of their relatives although the darker theory is they were cannibals and the skulls were a bi-product of there cuisine.


The newspaper quotes the findings of researcher Francesc Marginedas from Spain who said the practice continued for 15,000 years and was part of a ritual and was associated with cannibalism.

The Mercury concentrates of the possibility of North Somerset Council issuing a compulsory purchase order for the crumbling Birnbeck Pier in West-super-Mare. The council served owners CNM Estates with a repairs order in September which has been ignored. Meanwhile Hitoric England has allocated a grant of £127,000 for restoration work should the purchase take place.

How it once looked

Closed to the public since 1994 the pier is in a terrible state. It was once a thriving centre for day drippers from south Wales complete with a funfair and theatre. Technically an island the Grade II listed pier was opened in 1867 with a further pier that could dock steamers – the last one slipping anchor in 1979. A meeting of the council will decide further action on February 5.


Back to the Gazette and there was a shock upset in sport when Cheddar beat league leaders in the First Division by 1-0. Longwell Green were undone by a goal by Ricky Bennett in front of a crowd of 90.

The Gazette also gives prominence to Shipham’s actors who will be staging Cinders’ Sisters on February 7-8 in the village hall. Veteran photographer Tony Bolton took the snaps. Tickets as always are available at the village shop at Hansfords.

For more details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit

Follow Harry on FaceBook, Twitter @harrythespic, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.